PRATT – The first migrating whooping crane was spotted on Oct. 24 at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, near Stafford in central Kansas. A rare and fantastic sight, this whooping crane is part of the only sustaining wild population estimated at 250 birds. Whooping cranes from this population will fly through the state in upcoming weeks, making their way to wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Past records indicate that most whooping cranes will pass through Kansas between Oct. 17 and Nov. 10, usually travelling in small family groups. However, last year, 18 whoopers were spotted together at Quivira as they migrated south from their Canaian nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories.
As part of a cooperative monitoring program supervised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) encourages anyone who has spotted a whooper to contact their local natural resource officer or KDWPT office. Sighting information can be used to alert managers of key areas along the flyway — such as Quivira and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas — and to provide sighting records for the Whooping Crane Recovery Plan and for whooping crane research in the U.S. and Canada.
For more information, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at